In a groundbreaking move within the Web3 startup landscape, Asta Li and Henri Stern have pioneered a novel approach with Privy: developing consumer-centric solutions for the crypto sphere. Their brainchild, Privy, is the driving force behind sought-after consumer tools, notably empowering ventures like the buzzworthy Blackbird dining service, recently featured in the esteemed New York Times, and the thriving sports card site Courtyard.
Stern underscores Privy’s distinct approach, amalgamating the modular and privacy advantages of Web3 with user-friendly interfaces akin to mainstream platforms like Facebook. This innovative approach has resonated strongly with both consumers and investors. Recently, the startup announced an impressive $18 million Series A funding round led by Paradigm, with continued support from earlier investors, including Sequoia Capital.
Privy’s modus operandi involves collaborating with established companies to integrate blockchain-based services seamlessly into their operations. For instance, Blackbird, an initiative by the founder of reservation service Resy, employs Privy’s wallet tools. Independent restaurants leverage these tools to engage with patrons, offering exclusive perks and rewards to loyal customers.
While digital loyalty programs aren’t novel, Blackbird’s application leverages cutting-edge crypto tech, including private keys, to seamlessly merge the best of Web3 features with user-friendly app designs. This innovation extends to Friend.tech, a pioneering blockchain-based social media app, allowing users to access Web3 features using their existing Twitter login—an industry-first.
Paradigm founder Matt Huang expressed enthusiasm, highlighting Privy’s role in enabling consumer-driven crypto through cost-effective base-layer fees and an emerging software stack. Huang lauded Privy’s potential to fuel creativity across the crypto ecosystem, drawing from his partner Caitlin Pintavorn’s firsthand experience witnessing Privy’s impact through FriendTech.
In a strategic move, Privy welcomed Huang to its board, leveraging his previous tenure at Sequoia Capital and board membership at Stripe.
Privy’s inception stemmed partly from Stern’s dissatisfaction with the prevailing Web3 user experience, characterized by convoluted processes like purchasing “wrapped” digital assets. Li asserts Privy’s core objective: facilitating seamless user connectivity to the blockchain across devices and browsers, enabling clients to integrate crypto-style features as desired.
The startup’s collaboration with Blackbird sees the restaurant app offering “FLY” tokens as rewards, akin to conventional loyalty points. Stern hinted at future plans for these tokens to become exchangeable on Ethereum or similar blockchains, as outlined in Blackbird’s documentation.
Acknowledging Privy’s adoption of “walled garden” experiences, Stern defends this choice amid the prevalent threat of predatory scammers in the broader Web3 landscape. Privy aims to serve as an intermediary, enabling users to peek beyond these walls and explore the wider crypto realm at their discretion, leveraging their wallet’s private keys.
Currently, Privy boasts over 500,000 monthly average users, facilitating transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars across its wallets—a promising indicator of its early successes within the consumer-oriented Web3 space.